Gender Discrimination Alleged Against Wall Street Firms

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Two female executives at high-profile Wall Street banks have accused their respective employers of discrimination. One claims that she was first “mommy-tracked,” and then fired, when she began having children.

Charlotte Hanna was a former vice president in the human resources division at Goldman Sachs when she took maternity leave after having her first child. She was demoted from her position as department head, after taking advantage of a program at the investment giant that allowed her to work three days a week. She also lost her private office and was given a cubicle in which to work.

Then, while on leave for her second child, Hanna was essentially fired—although her superiors told her that the position was being eliminated, she later learned that someone else had been hired to take over her responsibilities.

Ironically, Goldman Sachs has long been touted for its female- and family-friendly environment, and was even named by Working Mother magazine as one of the 100 best companies to work for.

Another woman, Dorly Hazan-Amir, had been an associate with Citigroup’s asset finance division. When she became pregnant, she alleges, her coworkers and bosses treated her disrespectfully, telling her she had to choose between her career and family. One manager asked Hazan-Amir whether she was going to be a “career mom” or a “mom mom,” while another told her outright that she would have to put career first if she wanted to stay in her position at Citigroup. Not only that, says Hazan-Amir, but her male coworkers joked about setting up an office pool to bet on the amount of pregnancy weight she would gain.

Hazan-Amir was not fired from her position, and continues to work at Citigroup. Hanna wants to return to her old job at Goldman Sachs. Both women are seeking financial compensation, and are represented in their complaints by attorney Douglas Wigdor.

Wall Street culture has notoriously been unfriendly to female executives, who have struggled to be taken seriously and treated equally in an atmosphere which has long been male-dominated. The investment firm Morgan Stanley was a recent target of discrimination lawsuits brought by women claiming gender discrimination, and settled two suits, in 2004 and 2007, for over $100 million. Similarly, Smith Barney settled a suit for $33 million in 2008.

Goldman Sachs has said that Hanna’s case is without merit, while Citigroup has not commented on the allegations brought by Hazan-Amir.

 

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